If you subscribe to this blog, or follow it regularly, you’ve noticed it has taken me a few extra days to post. I have not been procrastinating! In fact, this is the third recipe that I cooked and photographed for this week’s post. I kept changing my mind about it, and suddenly, I realized this Sunday is Mother’s Day in Spain, and I will not be able to celebrate with my mom. So I wanted to make something beautiful, as beautiful as she is, and thought the recipes I had prepared were not appropriate for such a special day. It had to be a cake, a beautiful cake, for the most beautiful person. This strawberry sponge layer cake with strawberry cream frosting is my attempt to do her justice.
They say that mothers are the glue that keeps families together, that referee and smooth the edges around conflicts, and the household managers that keep it greased and working smoothly. They, with the same ease, sew a button and replace a lightbulb, cook a meal, or balance a budget. In the case of my mom, it was a team effort. She and my dad were a team, with each of them having their distinct responsibilities, and each of them praising, respecting, and supporting the other. My dad was more strict than my mom, but just and fair. With the ever protective dad, mom would intercede for our wishes (four girls, imagine the teenage years!) when they were fair and reasonable. In just measure, my dad was more of the saver, while my mom was the one pushing for that “extra” pair of shoes, or fancy jeans, that any one of us daughters were begging for. Both of them were very generous and charitable, both financially and with their time. They both sang to the same tune, and were the ever youthful, happy, social couple everybody enjoyed having around. They set a high standard for how a marriage should function, one that would produce a happy family with strong values.
With my dad’s passing in 2010, quite unexpectedly, that balance shifted. My mom has grown in leaps and bounds in the past 6 years, always supported unconditionally by her family, and after the shock and profound sadness, a new, even stronger-than-we-could-have-ever-imagined woman emerged. She deals with “business” issues in a way that would make my dad proud —even to her, and our, amazement. She’s still the glue, the voice of reason, and of forgiveness and compassion. She is the mirror where I want to be reflected, and I’d be happy to be known as my mother’s daughter.
I was inspired to make this strawberry sponge layer cake with strawberry cream frosting after a photo I saw in Martha Stewart magazine at the dentist office. However, my cake only looks like it, as I didn’t follow that recipe: for the sponge, I adapted a recipe from Nick Malgieri’s book “Bake!”, and the strawberry cream frosting is my own adaptation from my chocolate tower cake (click here for that recipe), that incorporates a fresh strawberry coulis. The result is a gorgeous, light pink cake, that tastes as good as it looks.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL MOMS, AND SPECIALLY TO MY MOM.
TE QUIERO, MAMI.
STRAWBERRY SPONGE LAYER CAKE WITH STRAWBERRY CREAM FROSTING
Tarta de Bizcocho con Glaseado de Fresas
Makes a 4-layer 9-inch round cake
For the cake:
8 Tbs unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
For the frosting:
2 1/2 cups whipping cream
3 lbs strawberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Icing sugar, for dusting
Make the cakes:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Butter the sides and bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper disks cut to size.
Combine the butter and the milk in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat until the butter is completely melted. Set aside.
Sift the flour and the baking powder over a medium mixing bowl.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the eggs with the salt. Slowly add in the sugar, then the vanilla extract, while continue whisking (I like to use a stand up mixer) at medium-high speed until well mixed, about 3 minutes.
Slowly add the warm milk and butter mixture, while whisking gently. Add the flour mixture in 4 additions and continue to whisk until completely incorporated. The batter will be slightly liquid. Divide the batter evenly into the two cake pans, tap the pans gently on the counter to level their content, and place in the oven. Bake until the cakes have risen and their surface is golden, about 25-30 minutes (if you’re not sure of their doneness, insert a toothpick in the center and make sure it comes out clean).
Use a small knife to detach the cake from the sides of the pan, then invert the cakes onto cooling racks. Immediately re-invert the cakes and let cool completely, with the paper on the bottom.
Make the frosting:
In a food processor, purée 1 lb strawberries with the sugar until smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until it turns darker in color and becomes syrupy, about 10m minutes. Strain through a colander, pressing on any small solids, and refrigerate for about 1 hour (or place the saucepan over an ice bath to speed up the process).
Whip the cream until soft peaks form, then reduce the speed to low and slowly stream in the strawberry puré, while continuing to whisk (you can also incorporate the strawberry puré with a rubber spatula).
Slice 1 lb strawberries into 1/4-inch thick disks.
Assemble the cake:
Remove the paper disks from the cake bottoms. With a serrated knife, cut off the tops of the cakes until leveled. Then slice each cake horizontally into two rounds. You will end up with 4 equal cake rounds. Place one cake on a plate, cut-side up. Spread about 3/4 cup of frosting with an offset spatula and cover with a layer of sliced strawberries. Spread another 3/4 cup frosting, level with the offset spatula, and top with a second cake, cut-side down. Repeat the process with the frosting and sliced strawberries, then top with a third cake, cut-side up. Repeat the layers of frosting and sliced strawberries and top with the last cake layer, cut-side down. Spread the remaining frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake, using a frosting blade to evenly spread the frosting over the sides of the cake.
Top the cake with the remaining 1 lb of strawberries, cutting some of them transversally for decorative purposes. Dust lightly with icing sugar.